The mini-saga that is Balthazar London's debut across the pond has taken another turn today as restaurateur Keith McNally lashes out pretty fiercely against the London food community. With mixed reviews two months into the restaurant's lifespan, McNally tells The Independent, "My pet hate is the London food and restaurant community which, with two notable exceptions, is a petty, self-regarding, back-stabbing bunch of narcissists who should be put through a meat grinder and dumped into the Indian Ocean." And when asked for further comment, the restaurateur added, "just an observation from someone new to the food scene here."
Pretty strong words. But it's not the first time McNally has bitten back. Last month, McNally responded to Times critic Giles Coren, who called Balthazar "the best restaurant in London, and the worst food in Europe." In his response, McNally seemed to brush off Coren's review, telling Eater that "it was written so clearly for controversy's sake." Coren later replied to that criticism, saying, "I desperately wanted to pretend I loved Balthazar, I had to be truthful and say that the food wasn't very good."
But apparently things haven't improved much between Balthazar London and the food critics in the month since. According to The Independent, the reviews "have been distinctly mixed." In addition to the Coren review, The Independent's own critic gave Balthazar London four stars for the food and five for the ambiance, but The Telegraph's Zoe Williams gave it 2.5 stars for "undistinguished" food. Not to mention food writer Hugh Wright who warned diners away from Balthazar on the blog TwelvePointFivePercent and wrote that his dorade tasted "as if it had been marinated in Toilet Duck." Yikes. Maybe McNally is now regretting his first foray outside of New York City dining?